Zanesville, OH 4/21/15 – There is more than one reason the “Women in Energy Summit” garnered so much attention — women, in general — have not taken advantage of the opportunities in the energy industry because working in gas and oil was always “a guy thing.” Secondly, women of all ages want more information about what is out there for them. And, many of the women who are currently employed in the industry are getting ready to hang up their hard hats.
The Summit, hosted by Congressman Bill Johnson (R-Marietta), at Zane State College EPIC Center in Cambridge Friday morning, was exactly their cup of tea.
The event was focused primarily on the future generation of women who will have access to a plethora of jobs and careers in the gas and oil industry.
Johnson said, “I want to make sure you know that there are many opportunities here in Ohio for you. The gas and oil industry has just begun to tap into our resources. We want you to know we are becoming the nation’s and the world’s most prolific energy producers, and we want you to be a part of it. To have a choice of the many jobs and careers that are available. And, we want you to prosper right here in your home towns.”
Approximately 144 women, including 50 female Cambridge Middle and High School students,. and 20 young women from Buckeye Trail High School, took advantage of a free highly charged dose of inspiration, motivation and education from 12 women who have earned the right to give advice on how to get a job, or have a career in the gas and oil industry.
Jo Sexton, president and CEO of the Cambridge Area Chamber of Commerce and moderator of the event, welcomed LeeAnn Johnson, wife of the Congressman, who said we need to remind women in communities everywhere that relative to employment, “this is not your grandfathers’ oil and gas industry.
“We need to start talking, to renew enthusiasm about the many opportunities available, not only to men, but women as well,” she said.
Sexton is also one of the women who has opened the door to women to learn more about the industry through the Guernsey Energy Coalition meetings she initiated in 2011, at the very beginning of the Utica shale boom in Guernsey County.
Jackie Stewart of Energy in Depth, Ohio, told her story of how and why she got where she is today, gave an informative primer on the drilling process, described the role of gas and oil in products we count on and use every day, and of the $8 billion investments by gas and oil companies in Ohio.
The first of three panel discussions about “Opportunities in Manufacturing and the Skilled Trades” was presented by Nancy Hanlon, the first female to join the International Union of Operating Engineers, Local 18, who has worked in construction for 36 years. Patti (the pipefitter) Ferri, a member of the Plumbers and Pipefitters Union Local 495, and Anita Warden, a supervisor at Detroit Diesel; all said their mentors were teachers, instructors, family members and people who they worked for and with.
In any non-traditional occupation, women almost always will be put in a situation that will test their ability to ignore or overcome comments about their looks, the way they dress and their job. All three said you have to develop “soft skills.” Show up for work on time, every day, show an interest in learning more about the job, do your job and have a “thick skin and ignore the remarks.”
The panel on “Opportunities in STEM and Energy Careers,” introduced Nicole Staka of the Council of Smaller Enterprises, an advocate for small business owners. COSE is a division of the Greater Cleveland Partnership, and an organization that coordinates activities and provides resources for small businesses in the Greater Cleveland area. It is the largest regional small business group in the United States.
Rebecca Heimlich of American Petroleum Institute, Ohio Energy Division, said she wanted to be a lawyer, but after all the schooling and passing the bar exam, she realized being a lawyer was not for her. She joined API four years ago when API created the position of campaign manager for speaking to grass roots organizations about the gas and oil industry.
Gtretchen Addington is an environmental and safety specialist for Eclipse Resources, and Leeanne Meyer is a vice president of environmental, health and safety compliance for MarkWest Energy Partners.
All four panelists’ education in science, technology, engineering and math allowed them to attain management positions in the energy related companies.
The third panel discussion on “Recruiting Women for Today’s Energy Careers” focused on where to find the resources to help you determine what kind of job you are looking for, what qualifications you need to apply and what information you need before arrive for an interview.
Samantha Goodhart, who is graduating from Zane State next month with an associate’s degree in the schools’ Oil and Gas Engineering Technology Program, said her mentors were family members and 4-H leaders.
To wrap up the event, Rhonda Reda, executive director of the Ohio Oil and Gas Energy Education Program and Foundation, recounted her experiences as one of the first women in her field to reach executive level. She said you have to earn respect and not expect special treatment. You have to show everyone you belong in that position.
Reda’s passion for educating the public about the industry has catapulted OOGEEP to the premier source of reliable gas and oil industry information.
She also talked about the necessity of educating future generations of industry specialists in fields directly connected to STEM (science, technology, engineering and math). She said the United States ranking in STEM fields leaves much to be desired. “We are 52nd in the world … We need young people to get involved … To assume leadership roles, especially young women.”
Reda said OOGEEP will announce their annual scholarship awards next month.
OOGEEP also donated the table favors — hard hats for every attendee.